5 Cool Ideas on Why Coaching is Better Than Bossing


We tend to coach the people who are most important to us.  Sometimes we coach the people on our work team.  Sometimes we are coaching our teenagers or other members of our family.  Coaching, an informal method of teaching, benefits both parties.  Bossing can be an adversarial arrangement whereas coaching is most likely a relationship based in advocacy.  Here are 5 Cool Ideas on why coaching is better than bossing.

1.  The “dialogue method” of teaching is fun. 

The “dialogue method” has been traced back to Aristotle.  The Harvard Business School adopted the “dialogue method” of teaching in 1924.  Less lecture-oriented than traditional teaching, the “dialogue method” is more fun for both the student and the teacher.  Here’s how the method works.  The student states a problem and advocates his or her recommendation for solving the problem.  The teacher/coach or another student is then allowed to refute the position and advocate a counter position.  Dialogue continues until the problem is solved and a lesson is learned.

2.  Asking questions is a form of teaching.

The Socratic method of teaching is to ask a series of questions that eventually delivers a lesson.  The Socratic Method works with people who think they know more than you and with people who are not open to the lesson.  When asking questions, be sure to ask protégés if they prefer to learn by listening, watching or doing.

3.  Being a “boss” can be a negative role, while being a boss can be a positive role.

For most people, the word “boss” has a negative connotation.  Bosses are often viewed as adversarial.  Coaches, on the other hand, are viewed as advocates.  A boss might use hot water to threaten employees where as a coach might use cool, refreshing water to motivate.  Bosses try to catch employees doing something wrong.  Coaches don’t try to catch employees at all.

4.  Some folks need to see it to believe it, while others need to hear it to believe it.  The best IT consultants are good at educating their clients.  They know that some customers learn by listening, some by watching, and some by doing.   

5.  Showing isn’t always teaching. 

My office has an automatic postal machine.  When we got it, my assistant hooked it up and learned how to use it, but I had trouble even turning it on.  I asked her to show me how to use it and she did.  Click, whiz, bang and a label appeared.  “That was easy,” I thought.  A couple days later I was couldn’t remember what she had shown me.  “I just showed you two days ago,” she said.  Click, whiz, bang and another label appeared.  I had been watching closely that time.  Three days later, I called my assistant in from the next room.  Seeing me standing in front of the postal meter, she said, “I already showed you how to do this twice!”  “I know you’ve already showed me,” I said, “But you haven’t taught me.”